HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Department of Health on Tuesday set a deadline of March 31 as the date by which all vaccine providers should have Phase 1A-eligible Pennsylvanians' vaccine appointments scheduled.
The state's amended order, signed Tuesday by Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam, also requires providers to make appointments with patients outside of their current patient network.
“This order requires vaccine providers to use all reasonable efforts to meet this goal by the end of the month,” Beam said in a press release. “Providers also are encouraged to consider other barriers to vaccination, such as transportation issues, and tackle those so that our most vulnerable can most easily access the vaccine.”
“When scheduling appointments, providers should think through an equity lens and be aware of times or days that may be easier for different populations to get their vaccination,” she said.
Beam also suggested that providers should consider leveraging mobile clinic opportunities.
To support vaccine providers, the department said it will be updating vaccine allocation information shared on its website so that eligible Pennsylvanians can see which providers have vaccine and the variety of ways vaccines are being provided, such as via clinic appointments and targeted community vaccination events.
The amendments are effective immediately.
To meet the aggressive timelines, the department said it continues to temporarily focus weekly vaccine first dose allocations to those providers that can administer vaccine most efficiently and effectively under the guidelines of the Feb. 12, 2021 order that, among other things, requires providers to:
- At a minimum, administer 80 percent of their first doses of vaccine received within seven days of receipt of those doses.
- Follow all requirements and recommendations in the COVID-19 Interim Vaccination Plan.
- Adhere to the current phase of Pennsylvania’s vaccine rollout, as defined by the department.
- Report the following within 24 hours of receipt of inventory or administration of a vaccine:
- Race, ethnicity, and county of residence for everyone receiving the vaccine;
- Receipt of shipments of COVID-19 immunization inventory;
- Reduction in inventory levels as vaccines are administered; and
- Reconciliation of inventory levels.
All providers that require and request second doses of vaccine will receive them so that people can return to their original provider to get their second dose, the department said.
This week, Pennsylvania vaccine providers will be receiving a total of 278,670 first/single doses and 242,270 second doses of vaccine, the department said. From December 2020 through March 20, the state has been allocated nearly 4.7 million vaccine doses from the federal government.
To date, providers in the 66 counties under the Department of Health’s vaccine plan have administered 3,835,484 doses, including vaccinating more than 1.1 million people over age 65.
“Later this month, Pennsylvania anticipates receiving an increase in vaccine first doses,” Beam said. “Once we have everyone in Phase 1A scheduled, we will be working closely with vaccine providers and county leaders to set up community vaccination clinics and to vaccinate frontline workers.
“This aggressive plan is designed to meet the goals outlined Friday by Governor Tom Wolf and members of the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force to get everyone in Phase 1A scheduled, vaccinate workers in targeted industries and then move to have everyone who wishes to be vaccinated eligible by May 1."
The only exclusions to the order are vaccine providers whose provider agreement is with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and facilities owned or operated by the federal government, including facilities operated by the federal Department of Veterans Affairs.
For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.